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Holder "Exasperated" By St. Louis County Grand Jury Leaks On Ferguson Case

Attorney General Eric Holder is “exasperated” with leaks emerging from the grand jury involved in investigating the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, the Washington Post reports. Holder privately referred to the leaks as a “selective flow of information,” and characterized them as “inappropriate and troubling.” The leaked information all appeared to support the case of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot the unarmed Brown. Various parts of the leaked narrative have appeared in the New York Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Washington Post.

Critics have said the information appeared to be an effort to prepare a volatile community for the possibility that Wilson might not be indicted. Former St. Louis County police chief Tim Fitch said there can be benefits to leaks. “It’s not a surprise to people” when a decision is announced, he said. Patricia Bynes, Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township, said such a strategy might backfire. “For weeks people have been told: Just let the system play out, there is a legal process in place,” said Bynes. “And then you have this happen. This is just spitting in the face of all of that. This has done nothing but radicalize people who thought that the justice system was not going to work for a black person in America.” Charlie Dooley, St. Louis County executive, renewed a call for a special prosecutor because “greater oversight is needed.”

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California Agrees To Stop Segregating Inmates By Race After Riots

California officials have agreed to end a policy of segregating prison inmates after riots based on their race as a way to prevent further violence, the Associated Press reports. Officers have frequently locked inmates in their cells based on which races were involved in the riot, even if individual inmates of that race were not directly implicated.

The agreement is spelled out in a 21-page settlement involving a lawsuit filed in 2008. The agreement says future lockdowns may not be imposed or lifted based on race or ethnicity. Instead, officers can lock down every inmate in an affected area, or individual inmates suspected of being involved in the incident or the gangs that were involved. The state also agreed to provide inmates with opportunities for outdoor exercise any time a lockdown lasts longer than 14 days. "We see this as a tremendous result," said Rebekah Evenson of the nonprofit Berkeley-based Prison Law Office.

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St. Louis Murders Up 27%; Could Ferguson Have Influenced Trend?

When four more people die violently in St. Louis in the next few days or weeks, the city will top last year’s total of 120 homicides in what has become another deadly year, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. From Jan. 1 through Wednesday evening, 117 people had been fatally shot, stabbed, run over, beaten to death and strangled in St. Louis. Homicides here are up 27 percent this year over last.

Police Chief Sam Dotson says overall crime, which showed steady decreases all year, is now creeping upward again. One reason, he says, could be the wave of protests after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9. “I believe there is some segment of the community that feels empowered by what’s going on,” Dotson said. Dotson compared the trend to dramatic increases in violent crime in Cincinnati in 2001 when riots broke out there after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teen. “More people are committing crimes (in St. Louis),” Dotson said. “Something is different.”

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Indiana Serial Killer Cases Focuses Attention On The "Missing Missing"

The discovery last weekend of the bodies of seven women, mostly prostitutes, in Indiana did not result from a manhunt for a serial killer of the kind seen in television crime dramas. Rather, it was the arrest of Darren Deon Vann, 43, in connection with the disappearance of one woman, Afrika Hardy, 19, that had the registered sex offender spilling his guts about crimes of which authorities had little knowledge, writes criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University in USA Today. This is a familiar story to those who pay close attention to such crimes in real life. Serial murders of prostitutes — streetwalkers, escorts, and outcall sex workers — have occurred in virtually every state, with many of the cases unsolved and frustratingly cold.

Criminologist Kenna Quinet of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis says, as many as one-third of repeat killers have included prostitutes among their prey. Moreover, the body count may be severely understated from what Quinet has termed the "missing missing": missing persons never reported as missing. The high prevalence of prostitute slayings is partially a result of their easy accessibility. Most important is that the killer who stalks prostitutes can count on a slow response from law enforcement and minimal attention from the general public. Were he to abduct some middle-class co-ed, the response would be intense and immediate, as it was following the recent disappearance of University Virginia student Hannah Graham.

 

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Ottawa Gunman Was Alone, Converted To Islam; Foreign Ties Unknown

A day after a gunman killed an army reservist in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, many questions remain, says CNN. Why did he shoot? Why did he target Nathan Cirillo? Is he connected to the militant group ISIS? The attack at parliament yesterday that killed Cirillo was the second this week. On Monday, a man Canadian authorities said was "radicalized" hit two soldiers with a car in Quebec, killing one of them. Police later killed the man. The U.S. tightened security at its Embassy in Ottawa and another consulate in the country after jihadist chatter indicated an attack could be in the works.

The shooter was born Michael Joseph Hall in Canada in 1982. Authorities said he changed his name to Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. His attack came two days after a "radicalized" man killed a soldier with his car, and five days after Canada raised its threat level. Sources told CNN that he converted to Islam. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said the gunman was acting alone. "It appears there was just one shooter, and that shooter is dead," he said. It's not known why the gunman shot Cirillo in the back "in cold blood"  while he stood guard at Canada's National War Memorial.

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Amid Secret Service Reviews, Man Caught Climbing White House Fence

The Secret Service captured a Maryland man as he climbed over a fence at the White House last night, forcing a lockdown at the mansion and injuring two of the agency's dogs, McClatchy Newspapers reports. The unarmed man was taken to a local hospital for injuries. The two dogs were taken to a veterinarian for injuries sustained during the incident. The agency is under investigation for a September incident in which a man jumped over the fence and made it into the White House before being tackled. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned after the lapse.

This time, Secret Service said the intruder, Dominic Adesanya, 23, was "immediately taken into custody on the North lawn of the White House" after climbing the North fenceline. Fox News tweeted video of him apparently kicking a police dog. The White House complex was under  lockdown for more than 90 minutes and tourists were cleared from the area. An internal Secret Service review is expected by Nov. 1 and a broader review of the agency by a panel appointed by the Department of Homeland Security is due in mid-December.

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After 28 Days, Jury Convicts Ex-Blackwater Guards In Iraqi Massacre

After an unusually long 28 days of deliberation, a federal jury in Washington, D.C., convicted four ex-Blackwater guards in connection with a massacre of Iraqi civilians in a public square in Baghdad in 2007, Politico reports. The slew of guilty verdicts is a huge victory for the Justice Department, which faced roadblocks in bringing the case to trial, including a botched early investigation by the State Department and the challenges of pursuing a case in the U.S. over events that took place more than 6,000 miles away.

The verdicts avert the potentially ugly public reaction in Iraq if the defendants had been acquitted. Anger over failure to win convictions could have complicated President Obama’s efforts to boost Iraq’s shaky central government in the fight against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. One guard convicted yesterday, Nicholas Slatten, faces a mandatory life sentence on a first-degree murder charge. The three others, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard, were convicted on other charges and face mandatory sentences of at least 30 years in prison for using automatic weapons in a crime of violence. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said, "These Blackwater contractors unleashed powerful sniper fire, machine guns, and grenade launchers on innocent men, women, and children."

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Wisconsin Inmate Re-Entry Effort Shares In $30M Labor Department Grants

Word of Hope Ministries Inc., Wisconsin's largest faith-based provider of re-entry services for former prisoners, is launching a new program aimed at better preparing inmates to get and keep jobs on the outside. The three-year program is being funded with a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Home 2 Stay program will provide job training and mentoring for inmates at Milwaukee's House of Correction and a federal facility while they're still incarcerated, and then blanket them with services, from mentoring to health care and more, once they're out. "The goal is to reach them while they're still incarcerated," said Bishop C.H. McClelland, pastor of Holy Cathedral Church of God and Christ and president of Word of Hope. "We want to develop a relationship with them so when they come out, they're trained and connected with employers who are willing to hire them." Word of Hope is part of $30 million distributed by the Labor Department for prisoner re-entry.

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TCR at a Glance

Can Homicide Be Predicted?

new & notable October 22, 2014

A new study in the journal Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice aims to isolate risk factors associated with youths who commit homicide